La Tostaderia: From Mexico with Love
“Adelante! Sienta se! (Come on in! Take a seat!),” motions Chef Fernando Villagomez with the kind of smile that welcomes you, hugs you and makes you feel at home. And La Tostaderia, a food counter inside Grand Central Market (GCM), is just that – it’s home to Chef Villagomez’ top dish creations. It’s Mexican. It’s elevated. It’s Addictive.
“I wanted to show Los Angeles, to the world really that us Mexicans, us Latinos we have so much potential and we’re so creative in so many aspects. In the kitchen, in entrepreneurial endeavors, ” says Villagomez in Spanish.
And his creativity’s grabbed the attention of so many from famed food dude Guy Fieri to a couple who had this place at the top of their must-eat spots after driving 3 hours to get here. You’ll taste exactly why after your first bite of the Patrona Burger, a next level burger stuffed with shrimp trapped in Oaxaca cheese and crispy, hash brown-esque potatoes. It’s sheer pleasure. You’ll lose all sense of shame as sloppy bits drop out of your mouth. You look crazy, your eyes are wide, you’re making those annoying “Mmmmm” sounds but you … are … happy. And if you’ve got it in you to devour more – go for the fresh Octopus tostada, the Shrimp ceviche or the Sampler platter of tacos.
“Instead of regular cucumbers we use organic Persian cucumbers. We also use heirloom tomatoes and it changes the flavors. It comes out better,” insists Chef Villagomez when it comes to how quality ingredients raise the depth of his dishes. He’s come a long way in 14 years from his days as a taquero selling carnitas out of a backpack on the Metro in Canada to graduating from Le Cordon Bleu. “I’m very proud and I really have to thank my family. They’ve always supported me.” He also feels indebted to his other family - Grand Central Market - for the multiple opportunities to grow starting with his carnitas stand (Las Morelianas) to now this. He’s even reaching the Westside with a new La Tostaderia on Abbot Kinney.
So next time you’re battling indecisiveness at Grand Central Market, find the neon La Tostaderia sign, step up to the counter and let Chef Villagomez and his friendly crew feed you.
Written by Linda Hosmer | Photography by Kort Havens